Tag Archives: courage

The God Manifested in Jesus Cares About You!

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. [John 2:1-11]

 

Introduction/Anti-Thesis

Tony Kriz asks in his book Aloof, “What are we to do with a God who hides?  He is not alone.  Throughout the ages, men have debated whether God is concerned about his creation.  For example, Deist believe God has left us to our own devices.

Deism is a religion where it is generally believed that God is not (wholly or in part) involved in the affairs of human history.  They do believe that God created the world and everything in it.  They do believe that there is one God, though they reject the trinity.  However, for the most part, the Deists do not believe that God is involved with our lives.  God created the world and basically gave it all that it needed to run itself.  All, to the Deists, is governed by nature and natural laws.  All we can know about God could be found in nature.  They reject the Bible, revelations, and the like because those are man-made things invented through the superstition.

In any case the Deists believe that God is not concerned (though at various levels) with human history.  Therefore, we are all headed towards whatever fate has for us and whatever our greed and superstition may take us.

This general idea about God’s relation to His creation is widespread, though not as popular as it was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  As a matter of fact, some of the founding fathers of the United States of America were deists.  Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine were Deists.[1]

There may be Gods who are unconcerned, aloof, and distant about human affairs but that God is not the God of Jesus Christ.  That God is not the God that we serve.  Can I get a witness?

 

Transition/Thesis

The Bible tells us otherwise in regards to the views of the Deists.  The Bible reveals to us that God is very much involved with the affairs of the human race.  [2]

Foundational to the Christian faith is the belief that the  God manifested in Jesus  is actively involved with His creation?  From Genesis to Revelation, God is revealed as a God that cares about his creation.  In fact at no time does God abandon us; God is always intervening in human affairs, not because he is indifferent but because God cares about our lives here in the earth and because God wants us to have the very best quality of life we can muster.  Lord, have mercy!

Synthesis/Main Points

At the beginning of Epiphany, we have emphasized that God prepared the world to worship Jesus.  God did that in the name he gave Jesus and in the way that the heavens proclaimed his name and the way that the gentiles approached him to worship him.  God prophesized that his name would be called Emmanuel, meaning God with us.  In other words, the epiphany says that God is manifested among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth now known as the Christ after his resurrection and ascension back into heaven.  Jesus the name says “will be great because he will save his people from their sins.”   It is a name that God gave to demonstrate the powerlessness of the devil to triumph over the plan of God for his people and Jesus overcome the devil once and for all on Calvary.  Lord, have mercy!

You will remember that John presents Jesus as God’s Word made flesh, dwelling among us; as being able to be touched, felt, and handled like any other human being.  John says “And we beheld his glory full of grace and truth.”  Jesus is the man that contains the Godhead bodily, the creator of the universe, offered as a ransom for sin in the earth.  Jesus is the one who opened up possibilities for humanity to grow and excel in the earth.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that affords those who accept him a way to live the abundant life.

And our text this morning shows the first sign that the God we worship in Jesus, cares.  This text proves without doubt that the mundane affairs of our lives are important to God.  The God manifested in Jesus is concerned not just about our sorrows, but about every facet of our lives. This includes but is not limited to instances of joy such as a wedding, the birth of a child, the party to celebrate a promotion, the cruise to relax and enjoy family and friends, all are equally important to our God manifested in Jesus of Nazareth, now known as Jesus the Christ.  Hallelujah!

That ought to cause you joy to know that God is not aloof, somewhere in the universe unconcerned about your life, but that God as manifested in Jesus is a very present help in time of trouble.  And I don’t know about you but that is music to my ears.  I need to know that God cares, and more specifically God cares for me.

Move 1

This text illustrates four points that I would like to highlight this morning.  Let me give them to you now and elaborate on each of them in due course.  First, the God manifested in Jesus cares about those things that are important to you.  Second, the God manifested in Jesus when you bring your cares to him, will work on your behalf.  Jesus has a solution to every dilemma you face in life. Third, the God manifested in Jesus offers you his very best solution. And finally, the God manifested in Jesus does all that he does to bring glory to his heavenly father, your God and my God.  Amen?

First, the God manifested in Jesus cares about those things that are important to you.  Here is the situation as outlined in verses 1-4, “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

A wedding is going on.  Guests are enjoying themselves and as the custom is, wine is served at the wedding.  However, as the reception progresses Mary is informed that the wine is about consumed and more will be needed otherwise the groom and the bride will be embarrassed.  Mary is concerned; it is important to her that the wedding party is not embarrassed.

Everyone is having a good time and such humiliation will scar the wedding day for the couple.  And so Mary, knowing that Jesus cares, brings this problem to him.  Jesus not understanding that these types of things are important to God, asks, “Woman, why do you involve me?”  Yet the God manifested in Jesus speaks to Jesus and helps Jesus know that God does indeed care about whether this couple has a beautiful wedding celebration.

Many are the things that we discount God about.  Many are the things we don’t take to Jesus because we don’t believe God cares about them.  However, our text illustrates that what is important to you is important to God.  Never should you be ashamed to bring your cares to Jesus despite how trivial or human they might seem.  The God manifested in Jesus cares about those things that are important to you.  Hallelujah!

Second, the God manifested in Jesus when you bring your cares to him, will work on your behalf.  Listen, I want you to understand this as well:  Jesus has a solution to every dilemma you face in good times and in sullen times.  Listen to what happened in John 2:6-8, “Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

What Jesus did to address this problem was both natural and supernatural.  Jesus used the natural resources available to him to work a miracle for this couple.  The God in Jesus uses those things that are available to us to bless us.  You remember Elijah the prophet asked the widow, “What do you have in your house?”  Well, Jesus saw the water pots as a source of supply rather than as a source of waste.  The water in those posts were used to wash the feet of the guests, but Jesus took what was unclean, made it clean and transformed it into a blessing.

What are you withholding from Jesus because you think it’s not clean enough or appropriate enough to offer Jesus?  Let me tell you this morning that the God manifested in Jesus will work with what you have, not what you don’t have.  Hallelujah!

But let me move on.  Third, the God manifested in Jesus only offers you his very best.  Listen to the response to what the God in Jesus had done.  John 2:8b-10 reads, “They did so,  and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside  and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Two keys exist in this solution.  First, they did what Jesus asked them to do.  Second, God intervened supernaturally to resolve their problem.  Beloved, when you do what Jesus asks; when you obey Jesus; miracles happen.  And miracles happen that far surpass anything that you could ever ask or think.  Jesus did not give them common wine; Jesus gave them the best wine.  Why?  Because the God manifested in Jesus only offers the very best to his children.  God wants you to have the very best and you need to understand that.  Beloved, God cares about you and wants the best for you.  Can you receive that this morning?  Say this with me: “My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ever ask or think.”  Hallelujah!

Finally, the God manifested in Jesus does all that he does to bring glory to his heavenly Father, your God and my God.   John 2:11 says, “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

Listen, the God manifested in Jesus desires for you to worship him.  God desires for you to experience his glory (his power, his presence, his provision, his protection, and his love). When God takes interests in your life, he does so that the world might have a testimony of his goodness and his love.  And that’s why throughout the world men and women have exclaimed God’s goodness; God’s willingness to work in human affairs.  Just as God saved the day at this wedding, God wants you to bring your situations to him today.

Don’t save God for the big things in your life.  Don’t wait on a tragedy to pray and seek the God manifested in Jesus.  Rather, invite God to participate in all the activities of your life that are important to you.  The God manifested in Jesus wants you to be successful in everything you do.

Move 2 (Conclusion)

Epiphany is the sudden realization of something; it’s an unction; it’s a feeling.  When these people saw what Jesus was able to do, even at the wedding, it pointed to God his heavenly Father.  They began to believe what the prophet has spoken: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel, meaning God with us.”  They believed that his name would be called Jesus, “because he would save his people from their sins.”

During this epiphany season, I invite you to get to know Jesus as God manifested in the flesh.  I invite you to stop looking for some abstract, ephemeral God and try Jesus.  Beloved, I offer you the best gift ever given, I offer you Jesus, God manifested in the flesh.  I offer him to you because the God manifested in Jesus cares about your life, all of your life.

And so we don’t worship some distant, unknown Architect of the Universe, some Unmoved Mover. Rather we worship the God manifested in Jesus. God has prepared the entire creation to worship Jesus. For this God cares; this God can be touched by each of us. Touched by faith in Jesus, touched by prayer and supplication. Hallelujah!

[1] Cunningham, W. R. (2006). God’s Involvement in our lives.  Retrieved from http://www.pursuingthetruth.org/sermons/files/godsinvolvement.htm

[2] ibid

 

Are You Ready to Commit? Your Best Life is Waiting!

As a result of working with me, clients refuse to stay paralyzed. They move forward with that they can achieve higher goals in life. One such person improved his ability to connect while speaking publicly and his audience increased and his opportunities greatly improved. Another person discovered that she was beautiful inside and out and decided to show her potential to those from whom she once hid. She received better compensation and more opportunities in her career field. Another gentleman gained enough personal skills to overcome his introvert tendencies and mix and mingle at networking opportunities which benefited his company prospects.

My clients felt better, looked better, and did better. They learned that they could Win Again. They learned that a failure in life does not have to be a death sentence. They took the strategies they learned, applied them to their situations and came out of a situation of despair into a future of hope. That’s the kind of results I want for you. Join with me in the next couple of weeks to explore how you can also experience more again, more fun, more money, more opportunities, more confidence, and more challenges. You can Win Again! The power is still within you, let me help you strengthen your spirit and bring it out where you can employ your power to gain what you truly desire in life. As Les Brown says, “You Deserve; There is Greatness Within You!” I believe that and I know I can help you.

Join me in this transformation process; let me walk alongside you as you get the results you desire. This program works because when you’re ready to work it; doors open in your spirit and mind and whey you’re ready doors open in the world. The world is waiting on you to want it. I’m waiting on you to want it! Let’s do this together. Inbox me, call me, email me, just reach out to me; there is nothing to fear, but fear itself. So I say again, “Do it afraid!” Now is the time for you; You Can Win Again!

‪#‎brandstorychallenge‬ ‪#‎day9

Education, Inspiration, and Application are all You need to Win Again!

 Yesterday is gone.  You have demanded that past loose its grip on your life.  You have decided that “the past is indeed a reference and not a residence.  You contact me and you wait anxiously for the details of the program I have prepared to ensure the past never holds you hostage again.
You Can Win Again is based on the premise that with the right education, the right inspiration, and the right application, you can win again.  This is an exciting journey you’re about to embark upon and you are not alone.
One of my clients had been the victim of domestic violence.  She wore oversized clothes, even after she had broken free from the abuse.  She had little self-esteem and a lot of doubt and fear that she could be different.  But she came; she enrolled in the program and I could see from the very first session that her anticipation level had risen.
As she began to execute the plan, her eyes lit up and she said to me, “I feel empowered.”   And she came to the group faithfully each of the ten weeks of the program.  We reviewed the practical application of the principles she learned for valuing herself and her contributions and she was astounded at the change in her spirit.  She felt her power returning and at the end of the 10 week program, she was ready to live out loud and have her say.  Fear no longer controlled her; what people thought of her no longer held her hostage.  She stepped out and began to live again. She was so pleased, she asked to continue working with me.  Now we have a monthly coaching session where I listen to her progress toward her purpose and help her stay focused in her purpose.
I want this for you.  I want you to rejoice as you sense your internal power returning.  I want you to feel empowered; to feel excited about the progress you are making.   When your friends ask what has changed about you, I want you to tell them that you are learning how to live with faith that God’s destiny is doable in your life.  I want you to tell them that you know who you are, where you have been and what you are becoming.  I want you to tell them and show them that you can win again! 🙂
Are you ready to launch out from the past and into you future?  A future filled with high self-esteem and a deeper faith in your own personal power to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness.  I know you are.  Inbox me today; email me; send me a note and let’s begin this journey together.  You can win again!
#brandstorychallenge #day8

You Can Win Again!

If you’re experiencing defeat due to a failure in your personal life or career, my coaching program “You Can Win Again!” may be a great option for you.  Listen to this wise person, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”  My three pronged coaching program is designed to rebuild your personal power.  As you engage with me you will see a noticeable difference in the way you dress, the way you talk, and the way you approach the life you’ve been given.

I remember after my setback, I would stay in the house all day drinking beer, watching martial arts movies and playing Tupac’s All Eyes on Me double CD set.  Talk about depressed; I was down.  Everything that had gone wrong in my life took center stage and my mind said, you’re done; it’s over for you, stop dreaming, stop planning for success; this is the end.  And I’d grab another beer, a glass of wine and just languish in my mess.  All I was waiting for was my supervisor to call me in and end my career.  I had worked in that field 13 years and now I had gone into a dark place from which most people never recover.  Humiliated, embarrassed, and plain distraught I resolved to just live on my pension and let others have all the fun that success brings.

But thank God, my faith did not die.  God sent me an angel, in fact he sent me host of angels.  People came to me with assurance that I could win again; over and over they came until finally my strength began to return.  I accepted the fact that I didn’t have to stay in my broken state; I could indeed be transformed.  My favorite book is the Bible and I found a story that climaxed with this statement, “And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”  Faith in this person’s story empowered me to believe that I too could win again.

My spirit overruled my mind; I got my body together; renewed my mind; and began to fight my way out of that horrible place.  I would love to share with you the path that led me back to strength of mind and spirit; the path that empowered me to win again.  If you’re in that place, let me coach you back to spiritual, mental, and physical strength.  This virtual mastermind group begins soon.  Give yourself a gift of new purpose for the holidays.  Enter the New Year by becoming a New You!  You can win again!

With me as your coach, you will be educated, motivated, and challenged to soar!  You will engage in practical exercises designed to move you from mourning your loss to celebrating your new life.  Your friends and family will be inspired by your ability to win again and what better payoff can you have than to regain your self-confidence!  This program works; how do I know; I know because I tested it on me!  If you’re interested email me at earlgrffn2@gmail.com or inbox me with your contact information.  Join me and discover “You Can Win Again!”

 

 

#brandstorychallenge #day7

Making Connections that Impact the World One Person at a Time

Nervous energy courses through my veins; I am about to go on the biggest stage of my career.  I am an inspirational speaker; I motivate people to move to the next level; and I’m good at it.  When you sit before me, I look at you and connect.  I know you; you are who I used to be.
We are fellow travelers along the road of recovery from a devastating setback trying to find our way.  Once your confidence was unstoppable; you were on top of the world.   Then you made a mistake that costs you everything.  And now you sit before me because you know I have traveled that path.
I too have looked that darkness in the face and have come out victorious.  I am the wounded healer, a broken vessel stitched together by dogged determination and faith in God.  Because I refused to settle in the place of setback; I stand before you ready to share the rocky road back to the top.
I believe in you; you can do it again.  I know because I did it; I started right where you are, listening to someone else tell their story and it saved me from a life of mediocrity and despair.  You listen because my story and your story are brothers and sisters.
As I connect with you, my nerves settle and they become tools projecting my voice with power and assurance.  Though the room is filled to capacity, I am talking directly to you.  You are special to me, you are my client and I came to help you.  Let me guide you back to the place of productivity so you can continue your journey of making a difference in the world.  I’m ready are you?  Inbox me and let’s get started.  There is no better time than right now.
#brandstorychallenge #day6

Virtual Mastermind Group Forms in November; Are you Ready?

I’m looking for 5 people who look and feel like you have reached the end of your leadership influence quotient. Are you one of them? I’m creating a virtual mastermind group for those ready to make a change.

Are you frightened; like a child hiding under the covers with the lights out believing that the boogeyman is going to get you; Peeking your head from under the covers periodically just to see what’s outside. But when you hear an unknown sound, you retreat back to your comfortable place underneath the covers.

Is your past holding you hostage; yet you yearn to break free. Now is the time to act; I’m here to coach and mentor you back to your place of potential. No longer will the blues be your present reality; no longer will you choose hip hop to express your frustration; no longer will you hide beneath oversized clothes, afraid to wear makeup or to step out looking your best. The attention you receive as you transform will cause a leap in self-confidence and boldness in your approach to life. You will smile because you have your swagger back; you will have lifted the lid off your potential. Are you ready?

Are you ready to break free from the bondages that try to imprison you in mediocrity and failure? Are you ready to grow and reach new levels of influence in your field? If you’re ready, come join me, let’s get started. Contact me at www.johnmaxwellgroup.com/earlgriffin. Begin the journey today!

Barrier Breaking Enterprises – What We Do, Really!

Barrier Breaking Enterprises is a company formed to assist clients who think their yesterday has shut them off from their tomorrow.  We help those who lack the necessary support to build a bridge back to the top of their professions.  Point of fact, we help our clients realize the success they dream of despite the pitfalls they have experienced.   It may appear that all we do is teach leadership principles, but that would be a mistake. We target the whole person ensuring that we tailor our message to uniquely fit each customer, thereby ensuring measurable and maximum results.  Our clients are transformed by the expert coaching techniques used by our company to allow them to reach deep and expose the person they know they should become.  Fear and rejection no longer paralyze our clients because they gain the strength of will and spirit to face their challenges and overcome them.  This is who we are!  We have the experience and expertise to assist those ready to get up and get back on the path to fulfilling their dreams.
#brandstorychallenge #day4

The Courage to “Be”

“Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

Introduction
Since the dawn of time mankind has struggled to find meaning in life. Jesus posits a challenge in our text this morning. Jesus challenges us to find not only the true meaning for life; but also challenges us to dedicate the life we find to him for his purposes.

Who am I? Where am I? Am I awake or asleep? Alive or dead? How did I get here? What am I supposed to do while I’m here? Is there life after death? Why is there death?

The Movie, “The Matrix” sought to answer these questions. In this movie the world we know as reality is depicted as some form of pseudo-reality. It was a sham, a hoax, perpetrated by those who sought to enslave humanity through use of its vices and weaknesses. The real world in “the Matrix” was the machine world; a world of reality confined to numbers and cold, unemotional purpose. If you had a purpose you were allowed to serve the Architect of this pseudo reality otherwise you were terminated.

The key was to have your mind expiated from this pseudo reality by Morpheus and to be reborn as a cross between human and machine. Once freed your powers were increased and you could fight the machine world to regain and protect the pseudo reality which you despised in the first place. Zion as it were was the city of bliss and happiness that all humans coveted; it had to be protected at all costs. Zion was the aim and object of those seeking to be freed. It was a very intriguing movie but left us just as confused as we were before its production. For you see trying to answer life’s questions apart from Jesus is futile, frustrating, and fruitless.

Jesus uproots us from this pseudo reality and transports us into a new reality, the reality of God’s Kingdom. We can choose to spend our life trying to discover what and who we are in this world or we can spend our time discovering what and who we are in the Kingdom. In the former choice, we find a never ending story; but in the latter decision we find absolute power, purpose, and passion for living. In other words we can spend our time finding out who and what we are only to keep discovering that we can’t fully discover it or we can find and discover who we are based on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let us explore these two choices, seeking to find out about ourselves in this world or seeking to find out about our relationship to God in this world.
These two choices are reflected in the words of this text: “Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” This is a strange and mind boggling text. It seems to suggest two pathways; one that leads to death and one that leads to life. In other words, even after we spend a lifetime looking for the answers to the quintessential questions “Who Am I?” “Why Am I Here?” outlined before, even after we find the answers, we will still end up losing our life.

So, should we spend our time looking for our life knowing that we will lose it anyway? Or should we decide how we will live our lives in this world?

Move 2
Now consider this: We are persons! “A person is one who knows the world around him and particularly who knows himself in relation to that world and to other persons. . . . A person may be influenced from without, but the determining factor in shaping life and destiny is from within. Others may influence us; we determine ourselves. This means that a person has the power of looking ahead and of choosing one’s own course in light of moral distinctive.

Thus the challenge that Jesus poses is a challenge that can literally be accepted. This challenge is to “be or to become.” It is to find out who and what you really are and to “be” that unique distinct person, and then surrender that person to him and his cause. It is what Paul Tillich in his novel work The Courage to Be puts this spin on the text:. ” … Therefore, Jesus says that we are to take accept the life we find or determine within ourselves to use that life for his purpose, power, and passion. That passion is to help others discover their true selves and then commit that self to God through a personal relationship with Jesus as a disciple. Since loss of life is inevitable, Jesus challenges us to lose it doing the will of God rather than our own. But who can make such decision without first discovering who they are and “being” who they are in relation to this world? None of us can truly decide to become disciples of Jesus until we first discover who we are without Jesus. From such thinking is derived the saying of Shakespeare, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”

There are obstacles to determining who and what we are. They are three: intimidation, domination, and manipulation. Each derive from our relationship with others. Your environment influences your choices; intimidation, domination, and manipulation negatively influence you becoming your true self. All three of these obstacles are the forces of darkness that seek to cut you off from the light which shines once you obtain wisdom and knowledge about yourself. Only after overcoming these three negative influences can we discover our true self and with that the “life” of which Jesus speaks.

Move 3
Many of us quite frankly are hypocrites. We pretend to be who we are not. We have lived in response to intimidation, domination, and manipulation. We have kept our true self hidden, protected from the world or those in our environment. Only when we develop the courage to be can we relinquish that true self to Jesus in discipleship. Living as someone you’re not keeps you chained, isolated, imprisoned.

Only when you decide to “be” can you realize the depths of your alienation from God and accept God’s Son, Jesus as Savior. This notion of being is as a homosexual coming out of the closet. It is as an alcoholic refusing to drink another alcoholic beverage. It is as you and I determining to speak our truth refusing to allow others to intimidate, dominate, or manipulate us.

Being you is tough. Being you means accepting who you are at the core of your being: the good, the bad, the ugly. People in the world often exclaim, “Don’t judge me!” “Accept me for who I am.” “What you see is what you get!” Then, go on to be who they think someone else wants them to be. Being you is tough; accepting you is even more difficult.

Yet, this is exactly the you Jesus is challenging you to be. He does so because this is the you God is after. David, the King of Israel gave God his true self: whoremonger, murderer, selfish,warrior, betrayer, lover, friend, leader, servant, shepherd, singer, song writer, worshipper. David was all these things; but David dedicated his total nature, his true self, to God. And God accepted David as a son. David the Bible commends David on this one point, “David was a man after God’s own heart.” David sought to become who God intended him to be even as David dealt with his own true self.

This is discipleship: surrendering your true nature to Jesus and exchanging that nature for Christ’s nature. It is an evolving, transformative relationship with Jesus Christ. This, my friends, is the courage to be. Jesus invites us to trust Him with our true selves knowing that Jesus has paid the price and knows the way for us to live free eternally. I urge you to submit your true nature to Jesus today! Amen.

The Courage to Be

“Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10 : 39)

Introduction 
Since the dawn of time mankind has struggled to find meaning in life.   Jesus posits a challenge in our text this morning. 

Jesus challenges us to find not only the true meaning for life; but also challenges us to dedicate the life we find to him for his purposes. 
Who am I?  Where am I?  Am I awake or asleep?  Alive or dead?  How did I get here?  What am I supposed to do while I’m here?  Is there life after death?  Why is there death? 
         

The Movie, “The Matrix” sought to answer these questions.  In this movie the world we know as reality is depicted as some form of pseudo-reality.  It was a sham, a hoax, perpetrated by those who sought to enslave humanity through use of its vices and weaknesses.  The real world in “the Matrix” was the machine world; a world of reality confined to numbers and cold, unemotional purpose.  If you had a purpose you were allowed to serve the Architect of this pseudo reality otherwise you were terminated. 
         

The key was to have your mind expiated from this pseudo reality by Morpheus and to be reborn as a cross between human and machine.  Once freed your powers were increased and you could fight the machine world to regain and protect the pseudo reality which you despised in the first place.  Zion as it were was the city of bliss and happiness that all humans coveted; it had to be protected at all costs.  Zion was the aim and object of those seeking to be freed.  It was a very intriguing movie but left us just as confused as we were before its production.  For you see trying to answer life’s questions apart from Jesus is futile, frustrating, and fruitless.
         

Jesus uproots us from this pseudo reality and transports us into a new reality, the reality of God’s Kingdom. We can choose to spend our life trying to discover what and who we are in this world or we can spend our time discovering what and who we are in the Kingdom.  In the former choice, we find a never ending story; but in the latter decision we find absolute power, purpose, and passion for living.  In other words we can spend our time finding out who and what we are only to keep discovering that we can’t fully discover it or we can find and discover who we are based on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let us explore these two choices, seeking to find out about ourselves in this world or seeking to find out about our relationship to God in this world. 

These two choices are reflected in the words of this text:  “Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”  This is a strange and mind boggling text.  It seems to suggest two pathways; one that leads to death and one that leads to life after death. 

In other words, even after we spend a lifetime looking for the answers to the quintessential questions “Who Am I?” “Why Am I Here?” outlined before, even after we find the answers, we will still end up losing our life. 

So, should we spend our time looking for our life knowing that we will lose it anyway?  Or should we decide how we will live our lives in this world?

Move 2
Now consider this:  We are persons!  “A person is one who knows the world around him and particularly who knows himself in relation to that world and to other persons. . . . A person may be influenced from without, but the determining factor in shaping life and destiny is from within.  Others may influence us; we determine ourselves.  This means that a person has the power of looking ahead and of choosing one’s own course in light of moral distinctive. 

Thus the challenge that Jesus poses is a challenge that can literally be accepted.  This challenge is to “be or to become.”  It is to find out who and what you really are and to “be” that unique distinct person, and then surrender that person to him and his cause.  It is what Paul Tillich in his novel work The Courage to Be puts this spin on the text:. ” …  Therefore, Jesus says that we are to take accept the life we find or determine within ourselves to use that life for his purpose, power, and passion.  That passion is to help others discover their true selves and then commit that self to God through a personal relationship with Jesus as a disciple.  Since loss of life is inevitable, Jesus challenges us to lose it doing the will of God rather than our own.  But who can make such decision without first discovering who they are and “being” who they are in relation to this world?  None of us can truly decide to become disciples of Jesus until we first discover who we are without Jesus.  From such thinking is derived the saying of Shakespeare, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”  

There are obstacles to determining who and what we are.  They are three:  intimidation, domination, and manipulation.  Each derive from our relationship with others.  Your environment influences your choices; intimidation, domination, and manipulation negatively influence you becoming your true self.  All three of these obstacles are the forces of darkness that seek to cut you off from the light which shines once you obtain wisdom and knowledge about yourself.  Only after overcoming these three negative influences can we discover our true self and with that the “life” of which Jesus speaks.

Move 3
          Many of us quite frankly are hypocrites.  We pretend to be who we are not.  We have lived in response to intimidation, domination, and manipulation.  We have kept our true self hidden, protected from the world or those in our environment. 

Only when we develop the courage to be can we relinquish that true self to Jesus in discipleship.  Living as someone you’re not keeps you chained, isolated, imprisoned. 
         

Only when you decide to “be” can you realize the depths of your alienation from God and accept God’s Son, Jesus as Savior.

This notion of being is as a homosexual coming out of the closet.  It is as an alcoholic refusing to drink another alcoholic beverage.  It is as you and I determining to speak our truth refusing to allow others to intimidate, dominate, or manipulate us. 
         

Being you is tough.  Being you means accepting who you are at the core of your being: the good, the bad, the ugly.  People in the world often exclaim, “Don’t judge me!” “Accept me for who I am.” “What you see is what you get!” Then, go on to be who they think someone else wants them to be.  Being you is tough; accepting you is even more difficult.
          Yet, this is exactly the you Jesus is challenging you to be. 

He does so because this is the you God is after.  David, the King of Israel gave God his true self: whoremonger, murderer, selfish,warrior, betrayer, lover, friend, leader, servant, shepherd, singer, song writer, worshipper.  David was all these things; but David dedicated his total nature, his true self, to God.  And God accepted David as a son. David the Bible commends David on this one point, “David was a man after God’s own heart.” David sought to become who God intended him to be even as David dealt with his own true self.
         

This is discipleship: surrendering your true nature to Jesus and exchanging that nature for Christ’s nature.  It is an evolving, transformative relationship with Jesus Christ. 

This, my friends, is the courage to be.  Jesus invites us to trust Him with our true selves knowing that Jesus has paid the price and knows the way for us to live free eternally.  I urge you to submit your true nature to Jesus today! Amen.

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Effort Influences Destiny

“Remember this:  The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

How bad do you want it? How much are willing to do to get it? Your destiny is before you but the level at which you exist in it is determined by your effort.

Hard work and self-discipline are keys to your elevation. Sowing refers to what you do, what you bring to the table.  Billy Preston said it best,  “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. ”

God has a destiny for each person;  however, without your participation that destiny will be dwarfed.  In order for God to multiply your blessing,  you must first engage, employ your heart, soul, and body to its fulfillment. 

Get up and with intensity pursue your dreams!

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